17 Nov
Honeymoon

Top three honeymoon destinations in France

When planning a wedding, the honeymoon has to be one of the most exciting aspects of wedding organisation. You’ll be happily married, all the pre-wedding jitters will be behind you and you and your ‘other half’ will be jetting off to a week or so of romantic freedom.

The biggest question related to planning a honeymoon, is, of course, where do you go?

With its swathes of romantic towns and cities, set amongst a stunning diverse backdrop of rivers, valleys, gorges and mountains, not to mention world-quality wine and cuisine, France has long been a favourite destination for couples on their honeymoon.

But whereabouts in France should you head to for an unforgettable honeymoon?


 

22 Sep
Grasse

Exploring Grasse: The perfume capital of the world

The rather special town of Grasse is situated in the Maritime Alps, approximately one hour’s drive inland from Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. For anyone fortunate to be holidaying in this elegant stretch of the Mediterranean, a visit to Grasse is a must. There is plenty to see and do in what’s considered ‘the perfume capital of the world.’

Grasse sits atop a fairy high hillside at over 1100 feet. It is said that its elevated position alongside its micro-climate has made Grasse the ideal location to grow perfect specimens of the flowers needed for the perfume industry.

Jasmine for example grows superbly well here and is an often used ingredient in perfume. Jasmine has to be picked in the morning when the scent is strongest and quickly put into refrigeration ready for perfume manufacture. There are fields full of lavender and roses around Grasse. Some of these fields are now owned by the big, multinational perfume companies such as Chanel.

Though it’s not only perfume which has tourists flocking to Grasse year after year. The town’s old cathedral, Notre-Dame de Puy, is a poignant tourist attraction. The cathedral was founded in the 11th century and there are no less than three magnificent original paintings by Rubens inside. The altar piece is a work of pure genius by the Italian Renaissance painter Louis Brea.

Many of Grasse’s streets are quaint and cobbled, which open out into squares with glistening fountains. The town’s well-kept houses have red tiled roofs and pretty facades painted in shades of ochre, pink and cream. Top restaurants and bars are to be found all over the town. If there is one local speciality that the visitor simply must try it’s “Fassoum”, a type of doughnut made from courgette flowers, Grasse’s proudest gastronomic delight.

Whether you are staying in Grasse for the duration of your holiday, are making a fleeting day trip or are visiting on business, it’s safe to say with its rich historic and architectural treasures and surrounded by fields upon fields of lavender, roses and olives which roll down to the sea, Grasse will be eternally etched onto your memory and leave you yearning to return.


 

14 Sep
With 55 million of France’s residents on holiday on the Côte d’Azur during the summer, things can get a little hectic in this popular region of the south of France. In September, October and November, things become significantly calmer on the idyllic French Riviera.

Two of the quieter ‘must see’ towns in Côte d’Azur

With 55 million of France’s residents on holiday on the Côte d’Azur during the summer, things can get a little hectic in this popular region of the south of France. In September, October and November, things become significantly calmer on the idyllic French Riviera. Alongside the thinning of the crowds, the sun’s strong rays give over to a much fresher, cooler feel in the air.

In short, autumn is a great time to visit the spectacular Côte d’Azur.

Take a look at two ‘must visit’ villages on the French Riviera, which, without the crowds and intense heat, would be great to visit in the autumn.

Frejus

The Roman city and ancient military town of Frejus rises above the verdurous plains that separate the Maures Mountains and the Esterel Mountains. Frejus was founded by Julius Caesar in 49BC. With its large connected port, Frejus quickly grew to being home to more than 40,000 people.  This medieval town radiates quaintness, history and character.

With a network of characterful cobbled squares, alleys and streets, Frejus is an atmospheric place to explore and view a Roman arena, amphitheatre, aqueduct and town gates. The town is brimming with many quality restaurants, bars and shops and has been dubbed as being one of the least expensive towns on this stretch of coastline. Two markets are held in Frejus each week, offering a diverse range of local products, including cheeses, fish, scarves, flowers and knickknacks.

One popular tourist pastime in this area of the Côte d’Azur is renting bikes and cycling along the coastline, discovering the many of the beautiful beaches and coves dispersed along the French Riviera. Of course during the autumn, these beaches are considerably quieter and sparse of people than in the summer months.

Beaulieu sur Mer

Beaulieu sur Mer translates as ‘Beautiful Place on the Sea’, a name that says all. This small town is surrounded by steep and domineering mountains that rise abruptly into the Maritime Alps. This relatively untouched and tiny town is resonant of the Côte d’Azur pre-1960s before the French Riviera became a haven for sun seekers and tourists from around the world.

Beaulieu ser Mer’s elegant harbour lies adjacent to a small, sheltered beach that is particularly quiet during the autumn and winter. Being just minutes by train from Nice and Monaco, this palm-fringed town is conveniently located and provides a tranquil haven to escape the exciting bustle of the French Riveria’s busier resorts.


 

08 Sep
French Riveria

The best of terrace dining on the Côte d’Azur

If you are going to the Côte d’Azur sometime soon, naturally you’re in for a treat, particularly might we add, in terms of local cuisine.

France is world-renowned for serving top-notch and distinct cuisine and no more so than on the Côte d’Azur where the local gastronomy is relished by both locals and visitors.

Fortunately restaurateurs work hard to make the most of the internationally-celebrated cuisine and consequently there is an abundance of quality restaurants and bars with terrace dining.

Take a look at three of the best terrace dining options on the French Riviera where you can enjoy world-class food, tantalising wine and views that will be etched onto your memory for a lifetime.

La Reserve

Nestled on the cap of Nice, La Reserve sports panoramic views of the stunning Baie des Anges and beyond. Whether you are looking for a romantic night to remember or a rose-induced lunch, wining and dining on the outside terrace at La Reserve will be one meal you’ll never forget.

The restaurant is ran by a young chef called Sebastien Mahuet. According to the Michelin Guide when you enter La Reserve you “embark on refined gastronomic cruise, anchored for the Mediterranean.”

Chevre d’Or, Eze

It’s not just got one Michelin star, it’s got two – with reason. Chevre d’Or in Eze creates spectacularly creative and unique dishes that always use only local, seasonal ingredients. As memorable is its food is Chevre d’Or’s position – perched on the hillside leading up to the medieval village of Eze.

Eze itself has been described as being “perched like an eagle’s nest on a narrow rocky peak overlooking the Mediterranean.” Needless to say, the views diners take in on the terrace of Chevre d’Or are second to none.

La Voile, Saint Maxime

When pondering some of the best eateries on the Côte d’Azur, you are inevitably taken to the vicinity of Saint Tropez. Located on the shores of the Gulf of Saint Tropez at the feet of the stunning coastal village of Sainte Maxime, La Voile’s outside terrace really is a sight for sore eyes.

Watch the elegant masts of the boats down below bobbling gently up and down in the water whilst your taste buds discover truly delectable cuisine. The seafood is particularly recommended at Saint Maxime, especially the legendary lobster.


 

02 Sep
Cote de Azur

Clooney has eyes for the French Riviera

With its elegant harbours framed with luxurious and state-of-the-art yachts, affluent coastal towns with a world-class casino, restaurant or nightclub on every corner, the playfully diverse lands of the Cote d’Azur have long attracted the world’s most glamorous, wealthy and elite to its shores.

It comes as little surprise therefore when news emerges that George Clooney is looking at buying a love nest on the French Riviera. According to reports, the Hollywood actor, who is engaged to British lawyer Amal Alamuddin, has been in contact with estate agents in the South of France. Although as you might imagine, not any old Cote d’Azur property will do for the glamorous, high-profile couple.

George Clooney is reported to be specifically after a “house on the beach”. It has also been suggested a possibility has been located “just outside St. Tropez.”

Escaping the British weather

Asides being globally-renowned as the most glamorous and star-studded spots on the Mediterranean, the French Riviera boasts a beautiful climate of year-round sunshine and warmth. The 53 year old actor recently purchased a home in London and it is believed his St. Tropez pad will enable him to escape the less than desirable British weather.

“I guess he hopes the London gloom will be relieved by escapes to the Cote d’Azur,” a source told the New York Post.

An ideal romantic getaway

This sun-drenched stretch of the south of France provides the perfect romantic getaway for couples. In fact the refreshing combination of glamour and glitz and timeless, quintessential French culture, means the Cote d’Azur is one of Europe’s most popular honeymoon destinations.

Why confine the fun, excitement and luxury of spending time on the French Riviera to a honeymoon if you’re George Clooney? You may as well buy a house there and jet across whenever the London sky looks a little on the gloomy side.


 

20 Jun

Planning a trip to the Cote d’Azur? You’re in good company!

Stretching from Theoule-sur-Mer in the west to Menton on the Italian border, the Cote d’Azur is a vast reach of scenic coastal bliss. With the likes of Antibes, Nice and Cannes – world-renowned for their glamour and prestige – drawing in an up-market crowd, the Cote d’Azur has long been a haven for holidaymakers with style, money and taste.

As well as being a hit with the world’s elite, this unrivalled region of Europe has been a harbour for artists. For many decades painters and artists have been drawn to province’s dramatic coastal views, untamed wilderness, medieval hamlets and unsurpassed sunsets.

From impressionists to aristocrats, rock stars to royalty, it seems nobody with artistic integrity and tasteful wealth can resist the charms of the French Riviera.

And the Cote d’Azur’s popularity as an exclusive European holiday hotspot shows little sign of abating.

Recent figures reveal that the Provence Alps Cote d’Azur (PACA) is the most visited region in France after Paris Ile de France. This stunning and glamorous region of southern France was one of the only provinces to have enjoyed an increase in tourists in 2013.

Due to the city of Marseilles’ status as the European Capital of Culture in 2013, the Bouches du Rhone department saw the biggest increase in tourists.

The research was compiled by the Comite Regional du Tourisme (CRT). Bouches du Rhone is the most heavily-populated region of PACA. Last year welcomed a 3.4% increase in the number of tourists staying in the area overnight and a 7.8% rise in hotel stays.

As well as a large number of visitors arriving in PACA from across Europe, the region has boasted a sharp rise in the amount of tourists visiting from China, Japan and the United States.

With the holiday season beckoning on this sun-drenched corner of Europe, the Cote d’Azur is preparing for a summer of action-packed and up-market culture, entertainment and fun.


 

19 Apr

Exploring the Cote d’Azur with a Carte Isabelle rail pass

It’s one of the most glamorous and well-known coastlines in the world. Where are we talking about? The French Riviera of course. From Bridget Bardot to Mick Jagger, this geographically-diverse and lavishly affluent coast has been an inspiration to many.

If you are soon to have the privilege of visiting this holiday hotspot and are keen to ‘experience it all’ without re-mortgaging your home, a Carte Isabelle rail pass might be just what you need.

This highly useful one-day pass gives you unlimited travel on the local trains that shoot across the utterly wonderful stretch of Mediterranean coastline. The pass is valid from the historical town of Frejus to the beautiful Italian border  town of Ventimiglia. There is a total of 30 delightful stations to get on and off at along this picturesque route and if you want to see as much as you can of the Cote d’Azur in the spate of the day, it is wise to take advantage and get off at as many of the stops as you can fit in.

These local trains run at 30 minute intervals meaning you never have to wait long for another train to arrive. An early start is the order of the day if you really want to make the most of your Carte Isabelle rail pass. As these quaint local trains start trundling along the tracks as early as 5.30 am, an early exploration is there for the taking. What’s more, as this glamorous holiday spot is a hub for those wanting to party until dawn, these early morning trains can be relatively empty, meaning you can sit back, relax and take in the stunning seascapes on one side and mountain-scapes on the other, without being interrupted by other equally as excited tourists.

So how much does a Carte Isabelle rail pass cost?

In September 2013 a full day’s pass was increased by a mere 3 Euros to 15 Euros per person. When you consider how much of the French Riviera you can actually get to visit and explore with this pass, unlike a lot of things on the Cote d’Azur, you really can’t afford not to get one!


 

05 Apr

La Bastide de Mougins – an excellent family villa on the Cote d’Azur

Cannes might have the glamour and worldwide fame, but nearby Mougins has certainly got the quaintness and character. Mougins is a picturesque and charming village surrounded by forests of pine, cyprus and olive trees.

Throughout the 20th century the village itself has been both lived in and visited by artists and famous names. Pablo Picasso lived and died here from 1961 until 1973. Catherine Deneuve, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and our very own Winston Churchill, amongst others, have all been associated with Mougins at one time or another. Just a 6km drive inland from the razzmatazz of Cannes and the other chic coastal Cote d’Azur towns, Mougins is a beautiful inland retreat to escape to.

La Bastide de Mougins is a classy family villa on the Cote d’Azur in a swish residential estate in Mougins. The villa’s enclosed gardens are well-kept with carefully manicured hedges and trees and an abundance of shrubs and plants. The views from the property are beautiful, extremely green, interspersed with colourful villas, which are also surrounded by thickets of plants and trees.

La Bastide de Mougins has four bedrooms and can sleep up to eight guests in comfort. The house is unusually-shaped, which adds to its appeal. The master bedroom for example is a separate annexe which is accessed from the garden. The huge glass front to this wonderful en-suite bedroom bestows a fantastic view of the garden and pool.

The living room and interior dining area are open plan with a tasty mix of old and modern furnishings. Stairs lead to an en-suite double bedroom with a walk in wardrobe. This bedroom is grand and magnificent and jostles for the title of ‘master bedroom’. There are two more double bedrooms on the first floor, one of which has superb country views.  One the same floor, a separate bathroom ensures nobody in a party of eight is kept waiting for their morning shower. Stylish, colourful tiles decorate the bathrooms, as they do in the dining room, kitchen and living room.

La Bastide de Mougins’ kitchen is modern and tasteful with patio doors leading out onto the  second outside dining terrace. You are spoilt for choice when it comes down to eating al fresco at this incredible villa. There are two major dining areas attached to the house, one of which is next to the barbecue. At the bottom of the garden beyond the private pool there is a third dining area in the shape of a pergola, which is another great place to dine as you drink in the tremendousness of the whole of the villa.

For local wining and dining look no further than Mougins, which has a renowned culinary record. Every year the village holds a gastronomic festival in September. There are some great restaurants (some with Michelin stars) and bars in the village. Art lovers are in the right place as Mougins is home to a fantastic art gallery, displaying works of masters both living and deceased. Mougins is a sophisticated village in many ways but it is a village never the less, and a pretty one at that.

For more information, to view photos, and to check out availability and pricing for La Bastide de Mougins, click HERE.